A poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 58% of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military, up from 52% in 1994.The percentage of those who strongly opposed allowing open service fell from 26% in 1994 to 15% in 2005.

Britain’s armed forces allowed gay men and women to serve openly since January of 2000. The change was in part initiated by the June 1999 judgement of the European Court of Human Rights that found that not allowing gays to serve was “inhumane”. Today in Britain, the armed forces take part in gay pride events and are on a continuing drive to recruit more personnel from the gay community.

According to the study the majority of seculars (72%), white Catholics (72%) and mainline Protestants (63%) believe gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the nation’s military.

“The public recognizes that discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual service members cannot be more important than protecting national security,”says Kathi S. Westcott, senior counsel for law and policy for SLDN. “Support for allowing gays to serve openly continues to grow among all Americans, regardless of political ideology. Congress should heed the views of their constituents and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.”

(additional reporting from agency staff)

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